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    What Are College Fly-In Programs?

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole

    Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: January 9th, 2024
    What Are College Fly-In Programs?

    College campus visits are an important way of figuring out whether a college is a good fit for a student. However, the cost of college visits can get expensive, and many students are unable to visit each school they’re interested in, especially when those schools are far from home. Luckily, college fly-in programs can help alleviate this burden for students from low income communities and underrepresented backgrounds. 

    What do fly-in programs entail?

    Fly-in programs typically pay for a student’s transportation, room, and board over the course of a college visit. These visits usually range between two and three days. Oftentimes, they include special programming for prospective students. This might include class visits, meetings with students, and visits to school clubs and academic support departments. You’ll get a campus tour and also be able to spend some time wandering around.

    Oftentimes, fly-in visitors will have a student host, which means they will stay in the dorm with a current student. This is a great way to get some firsthand perspective on student life at the campus. You can use this experience to gauge whether you can see yourself at the college in question. 

    Not only can you use it to determine whether the individual school is a good fit, you can also reflect on the experience to decide if you enjoy the idea of attending school far from home, or in a place closer to your family. You can keep track of any thoughts that come up over the course of your stay and ask the admissions office whether they have any advice or resources to help students accommodate to new settings.

    Specialized programming

    In most cases, fly-in programs are targeted towards students from underrepresented backgrounds. As a result, some schools tailor the fly-in visits towards those students. Your visit might include different programming than standard college visits, and you might have the opportunity to talk to current students who are from underrepresented backgrounds to hear what their experience has been at the institution.

    Who qualifies for fly-in programs?

    Each school has its own criteria for fly-in programs, but most are aimed to recruit more students from minority or underrepresented backgrounds. Most of the time, fly-in programs are only available to students who have already gained admission to the school, but there are exceptions.

    Keep in mind, these programs are highly competitive. Not every admitted student will qualify. If you do get a fly-in offer, it means that the school was very impressed by your application. You should be proud of the work you put in to earn that offer! 

    How do I apply for a fly-in program?

    Many colleges automatically consider you for fly-in programs based on the information in your application. However, some schools require that you apply separately. This is true for any school that offers fly-ins for students who are not yet accepted. If you are interested in doing a fly-in program at a school, be sure to check with their admissions office to see if it requires a separate application. You can also consult your school counselor or a college advising organization such as CollegePoint to be put in touch with these opportunities.

    How to get the most out of fly-in programs

    Now that you know about how a student qualifies for a fly-in, it’s time to learn how to make the most of the opportunity. Here are a few pointers that can help you do so.

    Research the school beforehand

    This is probably the most important piece of all! Visiting a school is incredibly informative and helpful. But since you only have a few days there, it’s important to go in with some idea of what to look for. Research all that the school offers so you know where to go and who to meet to give you an idea of where you would find yourself should you accept their admission offer.

    Try looking up different academic programs, clubs, athletic facilities, or anything that interests you. If you already have a good idea of your academic interests, you can even look up what each professor specializes in and ask to sit in on a class that they teach.

    Related: How to plan a college tour

    Ask lots of questions

    High school students might feel shy on a college campus; it’s a natural reaction to being in a new place. But in order to get the most out of your visit, you have to overcome your shyness. As you make your way around campus, ask lots of questions. If a question pops up, ask your tour guides, ask other students, ask professors, ask anyone you encounter.

    Getting this variety of perspectives can help you to obtain a well-formed view of the school. When you return from your visit, you’ll feel more sure of the decisions you make.

    Also see: Top questions to ask on a college campus visit

    Take notes

    College visits can be overwhelming. Between being in a new place, the thorough programming, and meeting new people, you will probably be swept up into the moment. So, be sure to take notes as you go along. That way, you’ll have something to look back on when you return home. This way, you can see firsthand what your impressions were at the school, and make pros and cons lists of each of the schools you’re considering.

    Also see: How to make a college comparison spreadsheet

    Get the contact information of some current students

    No matter how much you do and see on your college visit, you’re bound to have questions when you return home. This is why it’s a great idea to get the contact information of some current students on campus or connect through social media. Especially if you find someone who is doing what you’d hope to do on campus, this can be an invaluable resource. Don’t be afraid to continue asking questions about the school once you’ve returned home.

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • College fly-in programs offer free college visits to prospective students
    • Fly-in participants are typically already accepted to the college, but there are exceptions
    • Most fly-in programs are tailored to recruit more students from underrepresented backgrounds
    • Many schools automatically consider students for fly-in programs upon their application to the school, but others have separate applications, so be sure to check in with your admissions office

    Related: How to choose a college

    Frequently asked questions about college fly-in programs

    Do you have to be accepted by a college to qualify for a fly-in program?

    Most schools only offer fly-in programs to accepted students, but there are exceptions. Before applying, you can always check in with the admissions office to see if fly-in programs are available. This has the added bonus of demonstrating interest in your school!

    Will a fly-in program cover my parents’ transportation expenses?

    Typically, fly-in programs do not cover parents’ expenses. If they come with you, they will have to pay for their own transportation, room, and board. That being said, it can never hurt to check if this is an option.

    How long do fly-in programs last?

    Fly-in programs vary in length, but typically last somewhere between 2-3 days.

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